Cutting Out Alarm Noise to Focus on Real Issues
By Basant Singhatwadia, VP of IoT Product Strategy, Accruent
This is the third of seven articles in our blog series entitled ‘Essentials of an IoT Remote Monitoring Platform.’ This week we will discuss the importance of controller hardware agnostic IoT platforms.
Equipment controllers alarm whenever an anomaly is detected. This causes a lot of alarm noise and distraction for store employees as equipment cannot dynamically tell you which alarms are real problems that need to be addressed and which ones are not. Did a customer leave a refrigerator door open too long? Is a cabinet in a defrost cycle? All the refrigerator can do is send an alarm and your employee will need to follow up.
This is where remote monitoring comes in to help. Remote monitoring sits on top of your equipment’s control system to help you contextualize and filter out excess alarms that these devices generate and will only alert your store and maintenance staff to issues that need to be addressed. This helps prevent your staff from getting bogged down with or ignoring all alarms or chasing non-issues rather than helping your customers.
Device manufacturers sell their hardware based on the capability to generate numerous alarms, promising that no issues will fall between the cracks. In the real world, only 5-10% of these alarms will actually be an issue that a person has to stop and fix. But increased alerts cause businesses to bring on additional resources to look at each individual alarm, only to ensure they catch the 5-10% of issues that really make an impact to the business. This is common practice in today’s facilities call centers.
Adding a call center to your business is costly and introduces even more possibility for human error. People misinterpret, miss key trends and they can even fall asleep on their shifts. This also causes problems when looking at repeat alarms.
Our customers have seen a couple key areas where call centers tend to go wrong. The first is around first-time fix. If the first-time fix is not achieved on a maintenance related work order, a call center agent can only call a provider back once they have left, potentially causing trip charges and additional invoices. The second issue is around identifying root cause for alarms. If an electrical problem is causing seven lights to be out at once, a call center agent will place seven different work orders. This often leads to multiple truck rolls and wasted spend.
When selecting a remote monitoring platform, your business should take into consideration the system’s capacity and ability to accurately handle your needs without throwing people at the problem. A remote monitoring platform should be able to handle the ingestion of millions of controller alarms per a day at an enterprise level, while adding the context of your buildings and devices to ensure it is filtering the most noise possible.
Contextualizing your data is also extremely important when filtering out nuisance alarms. Otherwise you can miss key issues or even worse create more issues than expected. Pairing your asset data with maintenance history, weather data, location data and building attributes can greatly increase accuracy and give much needed context to your maintenance team when addressing alarm issues.
Ultimately, a successful IoT platform is key to helping reduce excessive equipment alarm noise and ensure that your staff stays focused on only the alarms that really matter.
Explore the rest of the “Essentials of an IoT Remote Monitoring Platform” series:
2. The Importance of Hardware Agnostic IoT platforms
3. Cutting Out Alarm Noise to Focus on Real Issues
4. Creating a System Between Your People and Your Remote Monitoring Platform
About the Author
Basant Singhatwadia is Accruent’s VP of IoT Product Strategy where he is focused on delivering an actionable IoT solution (vx Observe) to our clients solving their real business problems. He leads the Product and Professional Services team for the vx Observe product with deep involvement with the Engineering team. In his diverse professional career spanning 23 years, he has worked on writing firmware for embedded devices, created an offshore software development center of excellence, to now being responsible for a product that remotely monitoring devices at enterprise level. He has been associated with Accruent (a Fortive company) for the past 15 years and has worked on almost all the VX product suites. He has been instrumental in devising a hardware agnostic IoT product strategy across different device types and different industry verticals.